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Pharmacists advocate for the patient voice in health care quality

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National Health Council educational program includes discussion of quality measures

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MARCH 6, 2018 – Patient groups and advocates gathered in Washington, DC, for an educational program hosted by the National Health Council (NHC) that focused on increasing patient–community capacity to engage in health care quality. Held February 15, the program was designed with a “train-the-trainer” approach, and the meeting included representation from a diverse array of stakeholders in the health system landscape.
The meeting began with these words from pharmacist Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, senior vice president of strategic initiatives at NHC: “It is important the patient’s voice is included at the table when quality measures are discussed.”

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Quality in pharmacy

The workshop consisted of six modules of lessons and discussions. Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, and director of operations for the PATIENTS program at the University of Maryland, was one of the speakers during the first module.

Laying the foundation for how quality is increasingly being considered in the evolving U.S. health care system, Mattingly said, “Better quality, great care, and good business are not mutually exclusive.”

He added that “better care equals quality, and better health equals outcomes.” Major takeaways from this module include the importance of quality in reducing costs and waste, and in improving care and patient outcomes.

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One area in which pharmacists can be involved in improving quality is the hospital discharge process.  “About half of the patients [after they leave the hospital] are not going to take their prescription to the pharmacy,” he said. “A copay may have covered the stay in the hospital, but when they get to the pharmacy, they have to pay and may not have the money.”

Mattingly described how a “concierge medicine” model is used to decrease 30-day readmission rates. “I talk to my students about what we are doing at the hospital now. We deliver medications to the floor. We ask them if they want to have it filled so they have it before they leave the hospital.”

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Why quality matters for patients

No matter where in the health care system an individual may be, quality measurement affects service delivery and patient support. Pharmacists are well equipped to engage with their patients and health care teams to improve quality measures.

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The remainder of the program explored various aspects of quality in health care, including important terms in quality and quality measurement, the types of quality measures, and how quality measures drive improvement, provide accountability, inform consumers, and influence payment methods.

Speakers described the key stakeholders in the health care landscape, and encouraged attendees to ponder where patients might fit into the current system or how the landscape might shift to include patients.

At the conclusion of this workshop, many attendees expressed an enhanced understanding of quality, why patients should be involved, and an appreciation for stakeholder collaboration in improving patient health outcomes.

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